Horse with Head Lowered

19th century
Modeled between 1881 and 1890, cast after 1919
Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917)

Object Place: Europe, France


18.1 x 27.3 cm (7 1/8 x 10 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


On View

Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery (Gallery 255)





Degas observed a horse in complex action, as if arresting its forward movement by lowering and turning its head and extending the left leg. Reacting to something not represented in the sculpture, the horse opens his mouth as if to whinny or neigh. The modeling of the wax is evident in the bronze, creating a lively surface and giving a sense of how Degas constantly worked and reworked his figures. He never meant to cast his sculptures, so they were always works in progress. The artist also used small wooden models to record the movements of horses at the racecourse. He said, “You can’t turn live horses around to get the proper effects of light.”


degas (inscribed, middle of base)


Foundry mark (stamped):

Cire Perdue
A. A. Hébrard

22/L (incised)


February 5, 1924, sold by Hébrard (the founder) to Philip Ainsworth Means (b. 1892 - d. 1944), Boston [see note 1]. Margarett Sargent McKean (b. 1892 - d. 1978), Boston; 1979, bequest of Margarett Sargent McKean to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 17, 1979)

[1] Sara Campbell, "A Catalogue of Degas' Bronzes," Apollo 142 (August, 1995), p. 22, L, citing Anne Pingeot's recordings of the Hébrard archives.

Credit Line

Bequest of Margarett Sargent McKean